By STEVE KRAH
Tim Murdock grew up in a baseball-loving family and played for some demanding coaches.
Murdock brings those qualities to his position as head baseball coach at DeKalb High School in Waterloo, Ind. He just finished his fourth season as the leader of the program after six seasons as an assistant.
Tim is the youngest of three sons belonging to Jim and Carolyn Murdock.
“Dad was born and raised in Philadelphia and taught me the love of the game,” says Tim Murdock of his late father. “It was a great upbringing.”
A 1987 DeKalb graduate, Tim played for head coach Bill Jones, an Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association founder and Hall of Famer.
What was it like playing for Coach Jones?
“At the time, it was demanding,” says Murdock. “In hindsight, it was a very rewarding experience.
“He wanted us performing well under pressure and physical demands and playing with respect for the game.
“He’s major influence on the way I coach today.”
A few years ago, DeKalb retired the No. 24 worn for decades by Jones and is posted at Baron Field.
Steve Harp was a longtime Jones assistant and also made an impact on Murdock.
“He taught us about playing the game the right way and held kids accountable,” says Murdock, who also helped Harp coach the Barons junior varsity. “He had the communication skills and could relate to the players. His strategies and X’s and O’s were impeccable.”
Murdock coached with then replaced Chris Rhodes as the fifth head coach in Barons history.
“He was good at developing the whole player,” says Murdock of Rhodes, who is now DeKalb athletic director. “He believed in off-season weight room training and being mentally tough.
“He was always putting (players) in pressure situations in practice and not lowering any types of expectations.
“The players had to meet his expectations.”
Murdock does the same things with his DeKalb teams.
The Barons compete in the Northeast Eight Conference (along with Bellmont, Columbia City, East Noble, Huntington North, Leo, New Haven and Norwell). Conference teams play each other once during the regular season on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
DeKalb played in the IHSAA Class 4A Fort Wayne Carroll Sectional in 2018. Others in the five-team field were Carroll, East Noble, Fort Wayne Northrop and Fort Wayne Snider.
The Barons have won 19 sectional all-time — the last in 2002. DeKalb last took a regional crown in 1998. There were semistate trophies earned in 1977 and 1980. The 1977 team was a state finalist and the 1980 squad state champions.
Jimmy Long, who was an IHSBCA All-Star in 1998, is one of Murdock’s assistant coaches.
Two others from the DeKalb Class of 2018 — Dane Mettert (Bluffton University in Ohio) and Jackson Pyck-Hontz (North Central College in Illinois) — are also headed for college baseball. Other recent grads to go that route are Collin Bice (2015) and Quinton Rumsey (2016) at Manchester University.
Murdock gets involved in the recruiting process by pointing interested players toward websites like FieldLevel as well as showcases and camps.
“I do a lot of networking at the (IHSBCA) State Clinic in January,” says Murdock.
Prior to DeKalb, Murdock spent five years teaching and coaching baseball at Eastside High School in Butler, Ind. — the last four as head coach. He did not play baseball in college and went to both Indiana State University and Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne (now Purdue Fort Wayne).
In 2017, the IHSAA adopted a pitch count rule (1 to 35 pitches requires 0 days rest; 36 to 60 requires 1 day; 61 to 80 requires 2 days; 81 to 100 requires 3 days; and 101 to 120 requires 4 days).
Murdock says he rarely had a pitcher approach the top of the limit, but the rest requirements has sometimes caused “unintended consequences” for his team and for others.
When possible, teams are more likely to try to win by 10 runs in five innings to save pitches.
“Coaches who would normally go station-to-station will try to score as many rules as possible,” says Murdock. “In the old days that would be considered disrespecting the game.
“If you have a stretch of six games in seven days, to save pitching is a big deal.”
Auburn (Ind.) Little League develops future and current DeKalb players as well as a number of travel baseball organizations.
“Kids see quality competition and they’re playing a lot of games,” says Murdock of travel ball. “They’re showcase their talents as individuals.”
DeKalb High School head baseball Tim Murdock (right) meets with Fort Wayne Blackhawk Christian assistant after the Barons played the Braves.